Opinion: Underrated Nemanja Matic has become indispensable for Manchester United
- He goes about his business quietly but contributes tremendously to the Manchester United cause, especially in the current set-up.
When Manchester United's Serbian central defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic provided the assist to Bruno Fernandes' equaliser against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, few fans of the Red Devils could have seen it coming. It showed excellent awareness on Matic's part to know where exactly Fernandes was stationed and faith to know that the latter could convert the ball into a goal.
Of course, the Portuguese creator did so with aplomb and exact precision to shoot it inches past the diving Jordan Pickford, but Matic deserves applause for his pin-point pass as well.
The former Chelsea player, who was brought to Old Trafford by former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, has long been an enigma to the fans of the Red Devils. Although he has displayed strong performances over the years by shielding United's defenders and bringing the ball forward towards the attackers, he has largely been inconsistent.
With the rise of young Scotsman Scott McTominay, Matic had also lost his place in the starting eleven under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Serb was a player in the Mourinho mould and someone whom the master tactician trusted with his life but Solskjaer was not willing to buy into his abilities whole-heartedly. The impressive run of form Brazilian midfielder Fred has shown over the past couple of months also meant that Matic spent more time out of the team than in it.
To be able to come out of that phase and give powerful performances for United in the recent past is a testament to the strong winning mentality that Matic possesses. Solskjaer has admitted that the Serb has now become a crucial part of his lineup and is someone whom the team can always bank upon.
Matic has ably supported Fred and new signing Bruno Fernandes in central midfield and also showed, on Sunday, that he can co-exist in a defensive partnership with McTominay. This kind of versatility has hugely impressed manager Solskjaer.
Matic is largely remembered by Manchester United fans for his injury-time winner against Crystal Palace in the 2017/18 and although he doesn't get in front of the attackers too often, he also has a goal to show for his name this season, albeit in the Carabao Cup. He has provided solidity to United's defence and is someone whom centre backs Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof trust. The Serb is an underrated player who goes about his business quietly but contributes tremendously to the Manchester United cause.
Published 02 Mar 2020, 13:12 IST